Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 7:40 pm

mvpforme wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Wily wrote:About what range is your pay? Is it a flat salary or based on contingency fees from settlements/judgments?

How's the job security/turnover?

Are you required to do any client-finding/rainmaking of your own, or do the partners take care of that?



Pay range is a set base salary around 80-90k. WIth a year end bonus that is determined by the success of my cases. Verdicts are a pain because they are always appealed for years. So really settlements determine the bonus more consistently.

Job Security is good. We are growing. I think I'm lucky in this aspect. they've really invested a lot to train me at my job, and understand that as a young attorney I've got a lot to learn still.

Im not required to do any rain making. It would be rather hard to do that at this stage of my career. Ten years ago our firm received about 80% of its clients from referrals. Now we receive about 80 to 90% of our clients via our Ads, SEO/Online, and straight call ins. The internet has really revolutionized our client base. Especially for the Mass Tort MDL stuff.



What is the bonus range?


Very dependent on the success of the cases and the attys role in the cases. It can be anything from 20% of the base salary to much much higher. In theory, the base salary doesn't go up much yearly, but the responsibility and bonuses go up much higher.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:To be completely blunt: I think I would love Plaintiffs' work. Just love it. And the only thing that is holding me back is money. I also love money--to be completely blunt.

Can I ask my question this way: assuming that Bob is competitive, tenacious, smart-as-a-whip with a nose for spotting issues, very well spoken on his feet and very quick in a debate, a strong writer, able to hyper-focus on a goal, able to look at legal problems from all sorts of non-legal perspectives, knows how not only to make a legal argument but "market" it to a layman, generally instills confidence and serenity in clients, has a great sense for sniffing out the unexpected underbelly of opposing counsel's case, loves civil procedure, and is one of those guys who has an answer for everything without seeming slippery...let's just assume arguendo that all of this is indisputable...can Bob reasonably expect that if he takes a job post-graduation for 50 grand at a Plaintiffs' firm, that in 10 years, he'll be making BigLaw non-equity partner money?

If your answer to me is yes, then note the time of your post because that is the time I decided without reservation to become a Plaintiffs' lawyer.


Nothing is every guaranteed. But the top 1,000 Plaintiffs lawyers make much much much more money then the top 1,000 big law firm lawyers. It takes more then just being smart. You have to be able to deal with a million things at once. You have to be likeable and quick thinking. You have to work incredibly hard. And a little bit of luck.

Frankly, Plaintiffs work is simply more of a high risk high reward industry. For some people it just clicks. But I've also seen brilliant attorneys who can't function in the environment. And I've also seen complete morons make millions.

If you love civil procedure, Plaintiffs side is the place to go (coming from a guy who loves civil procedure).


OP here. TY for response. Can you rank order the top 3 2L jobs that make you most attractive to the legit Plaintiffs' firms?

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:To be completely blunt: I think I would love Plaintiffs' work. Just love it. And the only thing that is holding me back is money. I also love money--to be completely blunt.

Can I ask my question this way: assuming that Bob is competitive, tenacious, smart-as-a-whip with a nose for spotting issues, very well spoken on his feet and very quick in a debate, a strong writer, able to hyper-focus on a goal, able to look at legal problems from all sorts of non-legal perspectives, knows how not only to make a legal argument but "market" it to a layman, generally instills confidence and serenity in clients, has a great sense for sniffing out the unexpected underbelly of opposing counsel's case, loves civil procedure, and is one of those guys who has an answer for everything without seeming slippery...let's just assume arguendo that all of this is indisputable...can Bob reasonably expect that if he takes a job post-graduation for 50 grand at a Plaintiffs' firm, that in 10 years, he'll be making BigLaw non-equity partner money?

If your answer to me is yes, then note the time of your post because that is the time I decided without reservation to become a Plaintiffs' lawyer.


Nothing is every guaranteed. But the top 1,000 Plaintiffs lawyers make much much much more money then the top 1,000 big law firm lawyers. It takes more then just being smart. You have to be able to deal with a million things at once. You have to be likeable and quick thinking. You have to work incredibly hard. And a little bit of luck.

Frankly, Plaintiffs work is simply more of a high risk high reward industry. For some people it just clicks. But I've also seen brilliant attorneys who can't function in the environment. And I've also seen complete morons make millions.

If you love civil procedure, Plaintiffs side is the place to go (coming from a guy who loves civil procedure).


OP here. TY for response. Can you rank order the top 3 2L jobs that make you most attractive to the legit Plaintiffs' firms?


Anything related to litigation. Plaintiffs firms, judge, even defense work. really anything that gets you good writing experience.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 06, 2013 1:10 am

How much would clerking for a judge help? Would it be better to clerk for a trial or magistrate judge even though it's less "prestigious"?

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 06, 2013 12:09 pm

So, I once worked in a high-volume, bonus-driven environment and one of the things that was really key to success was not only conversion skill, but selection skill--i.e., even if your skills at "converting" a "case" were great, you'd still fall behind if you had a knack for picking only the losers.

How do you pick your cases? That is, for the firm as a whole, for you, and then for an entry-level attorney?

Also, unrelated: will you hire before the bar from a school with a good enough first-time passage rate?

And finally, third: how many "legit" Plaintiffs' firms are there and how "competitive" are they, if you had to analogize to OCI (e.g., they're like getting non-Vault BigLaw, or something.) And how does the factor weight differ in Plaintiffs' firm selection and BigLaw OCI (e.g., Plaintiffs' firms care less about school, the same about grades, and more about fit and prior work experience).

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 06, 2013 12:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:So, I once worked in a high-volume, bonus-driven environment and one of the things that was really key to success was not only conversion skill, but selection skill--i.e., even if your skills at "converting" a "case" were great, you'd still fall behind if you had a knack for picking only the losers.

How do you pick your cases? That is, for the firm as a whole, for you, and then for an entry-level attorney?

Also, unrelated: will you hire before the bar from a school with a good enough first-time passage rate?

And finally, third: how many "legit" Plaintiffs' firms are there and how "competitive" are they, if you had to analogize to OCI (e.g., they're like getting non-Vault BigLaw, or something.) And how does the factor weight differ in Plaintiffs' firm selection and BigLaw OCI (e.g., Plaintiffs' firms care less about school, the same about grades, and more about fit and prior work experience).


Case selection is an art. Because its not my money going into the cases, I don't have the final say if we take a case or not. Basically I take the initial stage, talk to the client, schedule a meet in person if they are local, then make my case to the partners. They have done this for years, so they can usually identify right away if its got a major issue. Its a weird balance between wanting to help people, but at the same time not wasting everyones money and time. Now with MDL pharma stuff its a little differnet. At the end of the Vioxx for example, Merck paid out a ton to even the complete loser cases. So MDLs and mass torts, case selection is slightly different (you just don't want those cases in the bellwether.)

We do hire pre-bar grads. I actually was hired before I passed the bar.

I think the real challenge for getting a Plaintiffs job, is finding a firm willing to train a young attorney. Whereas big firms that leverage structure is part of the business model, at Plaintiffs firms its not. So while its not as competitive in quality, its definitely substantively more competitive. Meaning you need to learn skills that apply to your job pretty fast. I think my firm cared a little bit about my school (that being said it was pretty far out of the region so my school was fairly rare where I ended up). But they cared very little about grades, and much more about ability to write and work. So I think prior work experience is important if it shows in your work and skills.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 06, 2013 12:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How much would clerking for a judge help? Would it be better to clerk for a trial or magistrate judge even though it's less "prestigious"?


Clerking would be incredibly helpful. I really don't even think it matters what level, but trial would obviously be very practical. That being said, we, and I assume most Plaintiffs firms, have a ton of cases on appeal.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 06, 2013 1:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:So, I once worked in a high-volume, bonus-driven environment and one of the things that was really key to success was not only conversion skill, but selection skill--i.e., even if your skills at "converting" a "case" were great, you'd still fall behind if you had a knack for picking only the losers.

How do you pick your cases? That is, for the firm as a whole, for you, and then for an entry-level attorney?

Also, unrelated: will you hire before the bar from a school with a good enough first-time passage rate?

And finally, third: how many "legit" Plaintiffs' firms are there and how "competitive" are they, if you had to analogize to OCI (e.g., they're like getting non-Vault BigLaw, or something.) And how does the factor weight differ in Plaintiffs' firm selection and BigLaw OCI (e.g., Plaintiffs' firms care less about school, the same about grades, and more about fit and prior work experience).


Case selection is an art. Because its not my money going into the cases, I don't have the final say if we take a case or not. Basically I take the initial stage, talk to the client, schedule a meet in person if they are local, then make my case to the partners. They have done this for years, so they can usually identify right away if its got a major issue. Its a weird balance between wanting to help people, but at the same time not wasting everyones money and time. Now with MDL pharma stuff its a little differnet. At the end of the Vioxx for example, Merck paid out a ton to even the complete loser cases. So MDLs and mass torts, case selection is slightly different (you just don't want those cases in the bellwether.)

We do hire pre-bar grads. I actually was hired before I passed the bar.

I think the real challenge for getting a Plaintiffs job, is finding a firm willing to train a young attorney. Whereas big firms that leverage structure is part of the business model, at Plaintiffs firms its not. So while its not as competitive in quality, its definitely substantively more competitive. Meaning you need to learn skills that apply to your job pretty fast. I think my firm cared a little bit about my school (that being said it was pretty far out of the region so my school was fairly rare where I ended up). But they cared very little about grades, and much more about ability to write and work. So I think prior work experience is important if it shows in your work and skills.


OP here. Thank you for your response. May I ask a few follow-ups?

First, how does the firm determine which cases an entry-level gets to work on and therefore get bonusesed on?

Second, how do you measure writing skills? Your 1L writing grade? Your 2L and 3L writing grades? Writing samples? Journals? Publications? Just plain experience--i.e., if you have written a lot of briefs, you're presumed to be a better writer?

Third, what is the typical hiring life-cycle for a Plaintiffs' firm? This is where I have the least visibility, relative to OCI. What does the hiring life-cycle start with? (Mass-mail? Phone call? Referral? Offer of lunch?) When does it start? (Mid-2L year? Late-3L year?) What happens in the middle? (You wait to hear if you've gotten a callback with a slate of associates and partners and a committee decides? You're invited for an interview with the hiring partner and he decides? You follow-up and get them to move as fast as possible?) How does it end? (An unpaid internship period? A "summer associateship" with a low-to-non-existent offer rate?)

Fourth, and unrelated: how soon do you specialize in legit Plaintiffs' law? And to what degree would you specialize?

Sorry for all the pestering, but I have a big appetite for information on this subject.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
OP here. Thank you for your response. May I ask a few follow-ups?

First, how does the firm determine which cases an entry-level gets to work on and therefore get bonusesed on?

Second, how do you measure writing skills? Your 1L writing grade? Your 2L and 3L writing grades? Writing samples? Journals? Publications? Just plain experience--i.e., if you have written a lot of briefs, you're presumed to be a better writer?

Third, what is the typical hiring life-cycle for a Plaintiffs' firm? This is where I have the least visibility, relative to OCI. What does the hiring life-cycle start with? (Mass-mail? Phone call? Referral? Offer of lunch?) When does it start? (Mid-2L year? Late-3L year?) What happens in the middle? (You wait to hear if you've gotten a callback with a slate of associates and partners and a committee decides? You're invited for an interview with the hiring partner and he decides? You follow-up and get them to move as fast as possible?) How does it end? (An unpaid internship period? A "summer associateship" with a low-to-non-existent offer rate?)

Fourth, and unrelated: how soon do you specialize in legit Plaintiffs' law? And to what degree would you specialize?

Sorry for all the pestering, but I have a big appetite for information on this subject.



Everything is based on the dockets. Meaning we staff a docket with a managing attorney and a responsible attorney. So for example, I do nothing on certain dockets, like property damage (thank god). But if at the intake level I sign up a case thats on my docket, I'll be the responsible attorney. Now when we add a new docket, its largely dependent on who has the least work or has shown the partners that they have earned some more responsibility. This is particularly true when add a new Pharma case (which is normally a ton of work).

Writing skill to me is determined by the quality of your work (for hiring based on the writing sample you supply). I wouldn't care at all about a writing grade.

Hiring is pretty dependent on the size of the firm and the needs available. Very unlikely that it would be an OCI type system. A lot of Plaintiffs firms do like to hire law clerks during law school, which can be a great experience and a foot in the door. For my firm it basically depends on the needs of the firm, if we are taking on some expansive cases, or opening a new office in a different city.

Specializing is an interesting question. There are definitely different types of skills for a Plaintiffs lawyer. Trial experience for example is tough to come by and takes years and years. A specialist in the law can be much easier. For me- its largely a progression. I start with court hearings, then defending depos, then taking depos, then more substantive hearings and pre-trial, mediation, and more and more responsibility.

I think after about a year, I feel significantly more qualified then when I started. But I also know that I have a ton of work left to do, and a ton of areas to improve. Im not ready to open up my own shop yet, if thats what you are asking. I think I need 3 or 4 years before I'm at that point.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 06, 2013 3:53 pm

How about pitching the firms on the idea of an unpaid 2L summer internship?

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Holly Golightly » Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How about pitching the firms on the idea of an unpaid 2L summer internship?

A lot of plaintiffs firms will hire paid 2L SAs/law clerks, it's just not as much money as big law and a lot of them explicitly don't expect to give offers to their summers. All of that varies a lot firm by firm, though.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How about pitching the firms on the idea of an unpaid 2L summer internship?

They're (unpaid internships with firms) technically a violation of the FLSA.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:01 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How about pitching the firms on the idea of an unpaid 2L summer internship?

They're (unpaid internships with firms) technically a violation of the FLSA.


Ohh right...minimum wage then?

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Hipster but Athletic » Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:46 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How about pitching the firms on the idea of an unpaid 2L summer internship?

They're (unpaid internships with firms) technically a violation of the FLSA.

Just only do pro bono

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:47 pm

Hipster but Athletic wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How about pitching the firms on the idea of an unpaid 2L summer internship?

They're (unpaid internships with firms) technically a violation of the FLSA.

Just only do pro bono

I don't think plaintiffs' firms do a lot of pro bono, dude.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:47 am

So I guess the question is: if I am so interested in the experience I am willing to work for free, should the laws allow it...then is that doable? How would I pop the subject?

More generally, is there any structure or norm to the 2L hiring of Plaintiffs' firms?

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby John Winger » Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:39 am

What's the plaintiff firm consensus on law review, secondary jounrlas, moot courts etc?

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Holly Golightly » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:So I guess the question is: if I am so interested in the experience I am willing to work for free, should the laws allow it...then is that doable? How would I pop the subject?

More generally, is there any structure or norm to the 2L hiring of Plaintiffs' firms?

You should NOT have to work for free to do work for a plaintiff's firm, unless they are incredibly sketchy. Seriously. I would not even consider it.

There also isn't really a hiring season for most plaintiff's firms like there is for biglaw. The occasional larger plaintiff's firm will hire for the summer in the preceding fall, but most that I know wait until like Feb or March (or even later), because they just don't know what the workload will be that far in advance. It's probably best to contact each firm individually to see what they do.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby BeautifulSW » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:53 pm

Years ago, the common wisdom was that a year or two spent in a DA's office or with the Public Defender would give the potential plaintiff's lawyer an advantage. Is that still the case?

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:03 pm

BeautifulSW wrote:Years ago, the common wisdom was that a year or two spent in a DA's office or with the Public Defender would give the potential plaintiff's lawyer an advantage. Is that still the case?


Interested in this too.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:33 pm

Hipster but Athletic wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:

The best parts of the job- Ive got probably 75 cases on my different dockets (not including MDLs which have hundreds). So lots of very different work at different stages. I get significantly more responsibility in the cases, and largely the partners just leave me alone to do my job. I get to take depos, go to court, meet with clients etc. And there's nothing quite as exciting as a sitting in the courtroom for a huge verdict.

:shock: :shock: You don't feel guilty about taking this many cases? A client can't expect your undivided attention, but SEVENTY-FIVE at once?


Are you serious? I have friends in PD and States Atty Offices that have 130 open cases. The solo atty I worked for during college had at least 70-90 open cases at a time, and he believed that to be the norm in most smaller offices. Unless you do big law, expect a heavy case load.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
BeautifulSW wrote:Years ago, the common wisdom was that a year or two spent in a DA's office or with the Public Defender would give the potential plaintiff's lawyer an advantage. Is that still the case?


Interested in this too.


Absolutely because Courtroom and especially trial experience is so rare. We have at least one former prosecutor working for us currently. While substantively, crim lit is not related to civil lit, the trial experience is fantastic preparation for Plaintiffs work.

That being said, at least at my firm, biglaw to Plaintiffs side is the most common path (most the attorneys were former big law). I've also seen a lot of Insurance Defense to Plaintiffs side.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:40 pm

John Winger wrote:What's the plaintiff firm consensus on law review, secondary jounrlas, moot courts etc?


I did a secondary journal. I dont think it had any effect on my interview/offer. It helped for learning the bluebook and its a resume filler. I think a published article would be impressive (especially something in civil procedure or torts).

Moot court or trial ad would be more important. I talked to a Pside attorney last summer who would not even interview first year attys unless they participated in trial ad.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
BeautifulSW wrote:Years ago, the common wisdom was that a year or two spent in a DA's office or with the Public Defender would give the potential plaintiff's lawyer an advantage. Is that still the case?


Interested in this too.


Absolutely because Courtroom and especially trial experience is so rare. We have at least one former prosecutor working for us currently. While substantively, crim lit is not related to civil lit, the trial experience is fantastic preparation for Plaintiffs work.

That being said, at least at my firm, biglaw to Plaintiffs side is the most common path (most the attorneys were former big law). I've also seen a lot of Insurance Defense to Plaintiffs side.


So, tell it to us straight...starting in Plaintiffs' work as a Plan B to striking out at OCI is a low-success endeavor.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
BeautifulSW wrote:Years ago, the common wisdom was that a year or two spent in a DA's office or with the Public Defender would give the potential plaintiff's lawyer an advantage. Is that still the case?


Interested in this too.


Absolutely because Courtroom and especially trial experience is so rare. We have at least one former prosecutor working for us currently. While substantively, crim lit is not related to civil lit, the trial experience is fantastic preparation for Plaintiffs work.

That being said, at least at my firm, biglaw to Plaintiffs side is the most common path (most the attorneys were former big law). I've also seen a lot of Insurance Defense to Plaintiffs side.


So, tell it to us straight...starting in Plaintiffs' work as a Plan B to striking out at OCI is a low-success endeavor.


Its tough to find a firm that is willing to train you and understand that a first year attorney isn't necessarily as skilled.

But to be fair, I struck out at OCI and started at a Plaintiffs firm.




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